New York, Brooklyn, Urban Design, Landscape, Public Open Space, Transportation, Transit, Pedestrians
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership wants to make bold streetscape improvements akin to the recent redesign of 14th Street in Manhattan.
While parts of Brooklyn are famous for their human scale and walkability, the boroughâ€™s downtown is not among them. Much of its street design dates back to the Robert Moses era: Broad arterial roads move cars swiftly to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, public plazas can feel bleak and unsafe, and the collision of three different street grids makes wayfinding difficult.
Yet the neighborhood is one of the fastest growing in New York City. Its population increased 31 percent between 2010 and 2016; the number of jobs also increased between 2010 and 2015, by 26 percent. The neighborhoodâ€™s population is expected to double over the next decade.
â€śThe action plan seeks to re-knit, at a pedestrian and bike scale, many of the streets that were widened or cut off,â€ť said Claire Weisz.
The first phase of the plan would link those pedestrian oases via shared streets, known in the Netherlands as woonerfs, where curbs would be eliminated to make room for landscaping and street furniture. A 15-foot-wide winding traffic lane would be retained in these streets, although vehicle speeds would be severely restricted.
The second phase would extend the shared streets through much of the neighborhood, expand sidewalks along Fulton and Livingston Streets and Boerum Place, and add improved pedestrian crossings along Flatbush Avenue.
All of that space reclaimed from cars would make room for some serious greenery. The plan calls for 950 new trees to add to the existing 1,500 in the neighborhood, and a 230 percent increase in permeable surfaces. Planters will do triple duty, not only as homes for trees but also as benches and as barriers protecting people from cars.
Cyclists would get new protected lanes along Boerum Place, Schermerhorn Street, and Fulton Street. To make room for bike lanes and expanded sidewalks on the Fulton Mallâ€”a corridor that sees higher peak-hour pedestrian traffic than Wall Streetâ€”eastbound buses would be diverted one block south to Livingston Street.